Nadhim Zahawi questioned over vaccinating prisoners
Coventry South MP Zarah Sultana was accused of being “woke” after making the bizarre suggestion in Parliament yesterday. She asked vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi if the Government had considered prioritising prisoners for jabs
Ms Sultana said it would be a “humane approach to a completely disenfranchised population”.
She said: “Prisons are a high risk setting for transmission as well as hospitals, nursing homes and schools.
“There would be considerable challenges if there was an outbreak in this setting and vaccinating detainees is both good for public health and a humane approach to a completely disenfranchised population.
“So has the government considered prioritising vaccinating detainees as well as those who work in prisons?”
A Labour MP has sparked a backlash for suggesting prisoners should be prioritised for vaccines
Coventry South MP Zarah Sultana made the suggestion as vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi was grilled by MPs on the Commons Science and Technology Committee
Mr Zahawi replied: “Yes and again, if they fall into the most vulnerable categories that is exactly what we are doing to make sure the detained estate is also protected.”
Ms Sultana pressed: “So you’re not looking at particular settings, prisons in this instance, it’s looking at the age and vulnerabilities?”
Mr Zahawi said: “The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has looked at different cohorts, different groups, BAME of course as well, and have very clearly come down on the side of actually it is age that is the determinant of mortality and at the moment we’re in a race against death.
“We’ve got to try and protect as many of the vulnerable from death as quickly as possible.
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Ms Sultana asked Mr Zahawi if the Government had considered prioritising prisoners for jabs
“Of course once we’ve gone through that top nine categories, that’s 99 percent of mortality, then you can begin to start looking at those who might through their work come into much greater contact with the virus.”
The suggestion to prioritise prisoners triggered a strong reaction on Twitter.
Conservative MP Dehenna Davison said: “Personally, I think our police officers, teachers, supermarket workers etc should be prioritised above convicted criminals. But then again, I’ve never been very woke.”
Tory MP Matt Vickers mocked a recent internal Labour email which referred to prisoners as “prison users” as he criticised the idea.
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The suggestion to prioritise prisoners triggered a strong reaction on Twitter
He said: “A Labour MP wants to see ‘prison users’ prioritised for vaccinations.
“What about teachers, police officers, supermarket workers, prison officers and other key/critical workers?
“I think it would be madness to put criminals ahead of their victims.”
Another Twitter user wrote: “Any chance for those of us not in prison?”
UK coronavirus map as of January 13
One added: “The last people who should be getting the jab typical Labour.”
Another tweeted: “Prioritise convicts ahead of other groups of people? Only Labour would call for that.”
One more said: “This is just astonishing from Zarah Sultana. My priority for the vaccine is our heroes in the NHS, teachers and other key workers not convicts.”
But some agreed with Ms Sultana, with one Twitter user insisting: “Of course prisons should be prioritised for vaccination, along with all other densely housed environments that involve people mixing between their closed, highly contagious environments and the public sphere. It’s to keep EVERYONE safe.”
Vaccines are being given to the most vulnerable first, which is set out in a list of nine categories.
Care home residents top the list, while the next category includes over 80s and all frontline health and care workers.
Some 2,639,309 people have received their first jab, according to the Government’s latest figures.
Express.co.uk has contacted Ms Sultana for further comment.